Soil pH determines the availability of nutrients in the soil. pH is the level of acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Maize crops grow best at a soil pH of between 5.5 and 7.3, with pH 6.0–6.5 being optimal. In this range, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium are readily available.
"Its maize planting season, and am a small holder farmer in the Rift Valley, where am told my soil is acidic, how best can I grow my maize?"
Growing Maize In An Acidic Soil Environment can indeed limit the productivity and consequently the profitability of a farmer doing this. In general, Maize as a crop does not tolerate PH conditions of less than 5.5, prefering an optimal range of 6-7.2. In acidic soils, the roots of a maize crop suffer impairment from Aluminium toxicity, limiting nutrient uptake.
Besides this root damage, acidic soils also negatively affect availability of Nutirents. Phosphorous for example, a critical element in enhancing development of a good root structure, is fixed by other minerals in an acid soil, making it unavailable ( Even as farmers apply fertilizer), and leading to reduced crop production.
All is not lost though even in such acidic soil environments. Farmers are adviced to adopt practices that will either amend the soils, or altleast not make the acidic situation worse. Liming the soils is the only effective correction practice, and this can be done progressively over a period of time to ease the financial burden to the farmer.
Secondly, farmers should use more of Nitrate- based fertilizers as opposed to the Ammonium based fertilizers , which contribute a lot to the acidification problem. Balanced Nitrate based NPKs containing secondary and micronutients,would therefore be a better alternative for planting as opposed to Ammonium based products. This would provide the maize crop with a balanced Nutrient supply that is critical in ensuring High quality Yields.
Yara East Africa is Africas leading crop nutrition company, that focuses on growing the yield and profitability of the farmer; by sellings crop specific fertilisers and providing correct knowledge and how best to use them.
For specific product recommendations please consult your Yara Agronomist near you or stockists and Distributors in your area.
East Africa Regional Agronomist,